Thousands of writers participate annually in NaNoWriMo, a communal endeavor in which participants worldwide each strive to write a 50k word (or longer) novel within thirty days. It’s an exhilarating challenge and has produced such notable bestsellers as Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus and Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants. But it’s not for everybody. While some writers thrive scrambling to meet a specific word count by a specific date, this results-driven approach may set others up to fail. After all, setting aside X number of hours a day to write does not guarantee we can, or even should, spit out the desired number of words.
So, for those who prefer a little more wiggle-room, there’s The 100-Day Project, a free global art program in which participants pursue the creative endeavor of their choice for one hundred consecutive days. The rules are simple. In fact, there’s only one: choose a project you’ll commit to work on every day for the duration. The specifics, in terms of time investment and workflow strategies, are left to the discretion of each participant. In short, a journey over destination approach.
The key is to set a realistic goal, and one that will prove both engaging and beneficial to the artist. To that end, one writer might commit to writing an hour a day while another might feel more comfortable with five minutes. For those seeking a more comprehensive project, they might also choose to add additional related tasks. For example, a writer working on an historical novel might choose a project in which they write an hour a day, spend a half hour conducting related research and read a comparable historical novel for fifteen minutes in bed before falling asleep.
A writer friend who pursued a similar project shares an account of her 100-Day Project HERE.
The benefits of this practice are enormous. It helps to establish good writing habits, provides a sense of daily purpose as well as the stakes of an ongoing ticking clock and, for those who choose to engage online, it offers the peer support from a creative community and the chance to make new friends.
This year, 2023, the official 100-Day Project kicks off on February 13th and ends on May 24th. For those, less inclined to go public, or who can’t accommodate the official dates, a 100-Day Project can just as successfully be undertaken in private or among small groups of friends at any time. For that matter, if one hundred days feels like too much, why not start with fifty? An artist friend and I did just that in the final weeks of 2022. We both had creative tasks we wanted to complete by year’s end, so we each outlined our strategies and documented our progress in a private online journal. The results were astounding. Corresponding daily about our goals, accomplishments and disappointments gave our respective projects deeper meaning and facilitated greater productivity. We both exceeded our goals, and even our shortcomings proved valuable, as they helped us better strategize our 100-Day project we plan to kick off later this month. Do be warned, 100-Day Projects can be addictive.
So, why wait for NaNoWriMo? The 100-Day-Project is ready when you are. I urge all writers to give it a try.